The coast of Emilia Romagna is an almost sandy beach, along its entire length of around
140 km (100 km are bathing areas). The beach is from few meters to over 200 m wide. The coast is low and sandy, stretching from the mouth of the Tavollo torrent (between Cattolica and Gabicce) in the south to the mouth of the river Po di Goro river in the north.Behind the coastline, especially in the north, there are vast reclaimed lands, below sea level. These areas are wide wetlands, with an important environmental relevance. Here lays the Regional Po Delta Park and the State natural reserve “Duna costiera ravennate e foce torrente Bevano”.They are dynamic environments, whose equilibrium depends on the interaction of many factors:
•variations in sea level;
•weather and sea conditions;
•sediment transport from rivers;
•subsidence and human activities.
The equilibrium of this environment is now damaged by the intensive land use and by the conjunction of artificial interventions and natural events. The widespread urbanization, the intensive agriculture development, the decrease in the sediment transport from rivers, the presence of coastal works (wharfs, breakwaters, groynes) and the increase of subsidence have strongly increased the vulnerability of the coast of Emilia-Romagna. The coast is now subject to widespread erosion problems.
The beach is the result of the interaction between sand transport from rivers and the action of waves and tidal currents that redistribute sediments along the coastline. Human activities impacted on a delicate natural equilibrium: buildings, tourist structures and beach facilities, harbours, wharfs and protection structures (groynes and breakwaters) stiffened the evolution of the coastline.It is therefore clear that the coastal protection is a priority in territory defense strategies of Emilia-Romagna.